Background One of the greatest challenges facing our local healthcare system is the need for increased productivity and provision of patient centred care, while reducing costs. As the number of cancer patients rises, it is imperative that resources are used efficiently. Pharmacy teams need to adapt to these changing healthcare demands. Previously, chemotherapy was clinically checked by pharmacists in the pharmacy department. Locally, pharmacists have made the transition to working in cancer outpatient clinics to improve patient experience and optimise pharmacy workflow and capacity.
Purpose A service evaluation was conducted to ascertain time spent by pharmacists on activities in clinics, to support capacity planning and identify areas for improvements.
Material and methods Haematology (4) and oncology (22) outpatient clinics at a local cancer centre were included. Pharmacists collected data over a 1 week period on the length of time taken to plan for clinic, time spent clinically checking prescriptions, interruption time and the nature of interruptions. Descriptive statistics were calculated using ExCel 2010. Paired sample t tests were conducted, using IBM SPSS v.21, to evaluate the impact of the interruptions.
Results Total time spent planning for clinics was 7.25 h. The mean time preparing a clinic list was 20 min; this doubled to 40 min when pharmacists attended a pre-clinic meeting. Time spent clinically checking prescriptions per clinic varied from 6 to 645 min and from 44 to 112 min for oncology and haematology clinics, respectively.
Interruptions made a significant difference (p ≤ 0.5) in the time taken to check prescriptions in all clinics, except head and neck clinic. Interruptions were clinical (queries from prescribers, patient counselling and pharmacist’s interventions) and non-clinical (administrative tasks, technical issues and supply issues). Interruption time per clinic varied from 0 to 212 min and from 14 to 41 min for oncology and haematology, respectively.
Conclusion Pharmacists’ time could be used more efficiently by reducing clinic planning time and interruptions. This may allow pharmacists to spend time on direct patient care activities and supporting healthcare professionals. Pharmacy technicians could be used to help with planning and for non-clinical queries.
References and/or Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the pharmacists who supported this service evaluation
No conflict of interest.
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